Lesson Plan

Fairy Tales Around the World

Poster showing Little Red Riding Hood and a wolf
Photo caption

Poster showing Little Red Riding Hood and a wolf.

Fairy tales are stories either created or strongly influenced by oral traditions. Their plots feature stark conflicts between good and evil, with magic and luck determining the usually happy endings. While each culture and geographic region of the world has its own body of folk tales and fairy tales that it considers "its own," certain themes and motifs tend to be repeated across many cultures and time periods. Universal human emotions such as love, hate, courage, kindness, and cruelty appear in bold, broad strokes on the canvas of fairy tales.

Because of the worldwide ubiquity of fairy tales, their imagery and tropes have had a vast impact on many different forms of literature. The elements and echoes of fairy tales are alive in plays, movies, and books for all ages. Students should read and learn to understand fairy tales so that they can better comprehend the structures of literature as well as for the sake of the wonder, pleasure, and human understanding these stories can provide in their own right.

Guiding Questions

What is a fairy tale?

What are some special characteristics of fairy tales?

What kinds of plots, characters, and settings do we expect to find in these stories?

What makes each fairy tale unique?

Why are fairy tales so prevalent as a form of storytelling throughout the world?

How have illustrations been used to make fairy tales more enjoyable?

Learning Objectives

Give a simple definition of a fairy tale.

Identify some typical characteristics of a fairy tale using literary terms such as character, setting, and plot.

Sort fairy tales into common "tale types"or "versions" and become familiar with multiple versions of several tale types.

Re-tell, in their own words, a few favorite fairy tales.

Use illustrations to "tell" a familiar fairy tale.

Recognize feelings and emotions within fairy tales that are common to universal humanity.